Obama heralds domestic natural gas

Jan. 25, 2012 at 8:12 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- All companies drilling for natural gas on U.S. public lands are called on to disclose chemicals they're using during the process, President Barack Obama said.

The United States sits on some of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world. T. Boone Pickens, a Texas oil magnate, has said reserves in the United States make the country the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas."

Obama, in his State of the Union address Tuesday, said natural gas was one of the foundations for U.S. energy security. He said there's enough natural gas in the country to meet domestic demand for 100 years but companies working to exploit those reserves must do so responsibly.

"I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use," he said. "Because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk."

Much of the natural gas available in the United States is locked in shale deposits. Environmental groups worry the chemicals used in so-called fracking fluid, a mix of water and chemicals used to coax gas out of shale formations, are dangerous. Small earthquakes, meanwhile, were tied to the extraction of shale gas recently.

Obama said domestic natural gas production didn't mean he would "walk away from the promise of clean energy." In a reference to the bankrupt solar company Solyndra, Obama conceded that some investments pan out while others fail. He said he wouldn't "cede the wind or solar or battery industry" to overseas markets, however.

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